A week ago I ran, well walked mostly, a marathon. Hm. Doesn’t seem real at all. In fact, the idea that I completed the Dopey Challenge seems utterly bizzare. Me?! I can’t run! I can’t do that. But I did and here’s the proof:
So if it feels like I am milking this a bit – I am – but this is a huge deal. I went from not being able to run 100metres without hyperventilating and being in pain after to running 48.6 miles in 4 days in just about 12 months. I think I have earned the right to go on about it a bit. I’d also like to say thank you so much to all those of you who supported me through the running and who sponsored us. Our sponsorship page is still open if anyone would like to acknowledge our achievement and support Panthera. Thank you!
So, a week on and any muscle soreness (not that there was that much) has gone and my mega blister on my little toe has settled down; I am back home, it’s been snowing and tomorrow I go back to work. With a little bit of distance, here’s what I think and feel about the Dopey Challenge and what I learned.
- I ran a marathon! Well I walked a marathon mostly but I completed it within pacing requirements – less than 16 minutes per mile – just.
- Conditions matter, they really matter. I knew it could well be hot and humid for the running but that still didn’t prepare me for how the humidity would impact on me. Heat on its own isn’t as bad but humidity even when it isn’t that warm is just something else. I couldn’t breathe
- The support from the crowds and from people supporting on facebook or by text messages etc make a huge difference and can be the difference between managing another little jog and giving up. Thank you to all those people who shouted encouragement along the routes
- I can walk pretty fast for a very long time
- I really would like to have run much more than I did in the marathon
- Half marathon is a good distance – it’s a real challenge and it comes with bragging rights but it’s not so bloody endless. I’d like to do a couple more half marathons
- Star Wars music is just the best for crossing a finish line.
- I don’t think I could do a marathon somewhere where there is nothing of interest to me to see. I had my major wobbles and nearly giving up points along long stretches of road where there was just nothingness. The theme parks saved me because they broke it up and gave me stuff to look at. So I could probably run something like Berlin, Hamburg or of course London because there are places there of historical or personal significance that I can focus on
- I have to remind myself that doing the Dopey is a big deal – I struggle with that. I did it, therefore it can’t be that big a deal.
- However tired you are and however impossible it seems, it is always possible to run the finishing stretch and cross the line running. Always.
- Usually when I know I am not going to be good at something I just don’t do it or I find an excuse to give up early… not this time. It never crossed my mind to actually stop. Not once. I struggled badly from mile 5 of the 26.2. I thought I might not be able to complete the marathon and I was almost sure I wouldn’t make Dopey pace but I never thought I might actually stop. I thought I might be swept or possibly even taken off the course by medics if things got really bad but it never occured to me to actually stop.
- Every now and again I giggle to myself because I did it! I’m proper Dopey
- I haven’t run since Dopey but I did do a lot of walking in the theme parks and my next training plan starts with a 45 minute run on Tuesday – very possibly in the snow.
- I feel oddly calm about everything. Running the marathon after having run the 5k, 1ok and half marathon on the preceeding 3 days was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Physically that’s obvious but mentally too. It’s all fine – you just have to breathe through it.
- Running long distance takes you through all sorts of emotions – mostly for the marathon there was a mixture of self-doubt and determination with splashes of total desperation and despair and sprinkles of excitement and elation. I was sobbing from the minute I crossed the finish line and I had to hold my breath for the finisher photo to get myself under control. I wasn’t excited to cross the finish line, I was relieved! Being excited came later.
- I’m looking forward to running again
And there we have it – it was all a pretty amazing experience – from day 1 at the expo picking up our race packs with all the shirts and the bib numbers etc to day 5 – the marathon. The early starts somehow add to the occassion and the events are so massive that it is hard not to get caught up on the occassion. I won’t promise that this will be my last Dopey post – in fact it won’t be because there are photos to sort through yet and I wanted to tell you about the race retreat and the runners world challenge package etc but for now I’ll leave you with this – hower unlikely that seems to me :